Iceland to investigate salmon merger

Iceland’s competition authority is to investigate a proposed merger between two of the country’s largest salmon farmers.

Both Arnarlax and Arctic Fish are Norwegian-owned, being owned by SalMar and Norway Royal Salmon respectively.

SalMar purchased the NTS group, which includes NRS, earlier this summer in one of the salmon industry’s biggest takeover moves for many years. It is widely expected that their Icelandic salmon farming interests will eventually be brought together.

There is also concern in Reykjavik political circles that too much of its fish farming industry is foreign (ie Norwegian) owned, although this aspect will not be part of the investigation.

Iceland’s Competition Authority said in a statement: “The merger leads to the fact that the competitors Arnarlax and Arctic Fish, which farm in the Westfjords, will be under the control of the same party.

“During the investigation of the case, the Competition Authority will obtain views and information from market and business partners.

“Among other things, the investigation gives reason to believe that the parties’ market share in the likely markets of the case will be considerable.

“In the opinion of the Competition Authority, it is necessary to activate further deadlines for the investigation of the case, among other things with the aim of checking in more detail the possible adverse effects of the merger and/or entry barriers.

The statement adds: “The parties to the merger have therefore been informed that there is a reason for further investigation into the competitive effects of the merger, which is often referred to as phase two in merger control.”

The SalMar-NTS merger has already been approved by the Norwegian Competition Authority. Approval from the European Union’s Commission approval, however, is still awaited.